Posted at 11:27 a.m., Thursday, June 7, 2007
Colts' Manning throws himself into new role as teacher
By Michael Marot
The Super Bowl MVP has spent minicamp working with a new cast of receivers, a little known running back and even had time to sneak a peek at some of the defensive newcomers.
To Manning, it's all about repeating as NFL champions.
"You know Peyton likes new people," coach Tony Dungy said today. "He's taken guys, like he did last year, and gotten them comfortable here. He understands that's what football is all about getting them in here and getting them ready so you have them when you need them."
Manning has one more week to mentor his newest teammates before the Colts reconvene in Terre Haute on July 29 for training camp.
But it's been an unusual script for the perennial Pro Bowl quarterback.
Manning scrapped his customary routine of repeatedly throwing to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne so he could work more with draft picks like Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall and undrafted free agents like Trent Shelton and Michael DePriest. Harrison and Wayne did not attend this week's voluntary program, choosing as usual to work out on their own.
Nor did Manning have to spend the month teaching a new running back the Colts' system, as he did with Joseph Addai last year. Instead, he tried to get more accustomed to playing with DeDe Dorsey, Addai's backup entering training camp.
While some quarterbacks may not like this part of the job, Manning seems to relish it.
"It reminds you of you when you were that age," Manning said of the Colts' newcomers. "We work on all the little intricacies of our offense because when training camp gets here, you don't really have time for that. That's when the heads really start spinning."
The Colts finished the third of their four minicamp sessions today and return next week for four more days of workouts. Rookies have another three-day voluntary camp in late July, but the team won't get back together in full until July 29.
So far, Dungy has been impressed.
"There's an energy level here," he said. "We've tried to tone back some of the drill work to keep our guys fresh. But when we're going, we're working really hard."
Manning, too, has noticed.
He praised the work ethic of Gonzalez, the Colts' top draft pick in April, and Hall, a fifth-rounder, and acknowledged these camps usually provide a glimpse into what surprises could occur this fall.
Without giving names, Manning believes he's already found a few surprise players on defense.
"I think certain guys have some expectations starting out, but you also have some sleepers and I've seen some of those on defense, guys who have stood out to me," Manning said. "You know what you're getting in Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall, but that's not the case for everybody."
Next week also marks the end to the team's four-month victory lap. The Colts will receive their Super Bowl rings at a private ceremony Wednesday.
Manning, long criticized for his inability to win the "big game" before his Super Bowl victory in February, said he will savor the moment and might wear the ring until the team reports to Terre Haute.
Then, he'll stow it somewhere safe as a symbolic gesture that it's time to start over a cue he hopes the rest of the new players follow.
"Getting the rings will be a good cap to last season and mark the start of next year because it's a new season," he said.